Texas released James Lee Woodard from prison, after he served 27 years for the murder of a young girl in 1981. Hold your outrage for one second — Woodard wasn't released because the state was facing a budget crisis like we discussed earlier. Instead, DNA evidence proved that Woodard was wrongly convicted. He served almost three decades behind bars for a murder he did not commit.
Faulty evidence put Woodard in jail for the rape and murder of his girlfriend. As Woodard recounts his conviction, he was sure that he would soon be released once the police properly investigated. He had an alibi — he had been cheating on his girlfriend and was at the other woman's house the night of the murder. Even so, infidelity is more forgivable than murder.
The tough on crime mentality has helped America obtain 25 percent of the world's prisoners, even though it only has two percent of the total global population. It appears that such a political climate has also resulted in wrongful convictions.
DNA has exonerated 17 men from Dallas, almost all black. To find out what Dallas's new District Attorney thinks about this, read more.
District Attorney Craig Watkins is the first black DA in Texas. He is changing the face of Texas justice, trying to eradicate dangerous prosecutorial abuse. This Thursday, the state is holding a Summit on Wrongful Convictions in Texas.
Does this case make you worry about other innocent people sitting in prison? Can society ever compensate someone like James Lee Woodard for the years that were stolen from him? Are we destined to have a criminal justice system that makes some serious errors, or is that why we have reasonable doubt?